Day At The Track

Young driver worth a butcher's hook

08:34 AM 26 Aug 2016 NZST
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As reported by the New Zealand Herald, a determined Zac Butcher could be the driver to follow at Alexandra Park tonight and beyond.

The harness racing young gun says he is focused for the new season, something his results back up.

Butcher goes into tonight's meeting second in the national premiership with five wins and two placings from just 14 drives and with some strong chances, headlined by Arden's Choice (R8).

Butcher had a mediocre season by his very high standards last term but says he wants to be more consistent this season so his early success has been important.

"I'm looking for a big season and Barry [Purdon, boss] has some nice horses here so I am looking forward to the months ahead," says Butcher.

Arden's Choice looks the best of his book tonight at a meeting with surprisingly big numbers for an Alexandra Park winter fixture.

"She has been racing really well and won well at the workouts last Saturday so she has to be a good chance," said Butcher. There is plenty of speed drawn inside the group one-placed mare but that could suit as the tempo should be solid, which brings her stamina into play.

On a night with few odds-on favourites, the best horse of the show will need a new driver.

Open-class trotter One Over Da Moon faces a 50m handicap in the main trot, with Brent Mangos sitting in for trainer Tony Herlihy, who is in Victoria preparing Temporale for Sunday's Breeders Crown.

While it is never easy to overcome a 50m handicap at The Park, the small field and One Over Da Moon's ability to trot around 3:26 for the 2700m should see him make it back-to-back victories. Meanwhile, Herlihy and his fellow Kiwi trainers face a mixed bag at Melton's rich Breeders Crown meeting.

The likes of Our Waikiki Beach (3-year-old male pace) and Wilma's Mate (3-year-old female trot) are red hot to win their finals but Partyon, Pacing Major, Custodian, Temporale, My MacKenzie and Our Regal Love faces serious opposition and difficult draws in their races.

Partyon would usually he a standout favourite, being an unbeaten Mark Purdon-trained Harness Jewels winner but she has drawn the outside of the front line, from where only two horses have ever won a Breeders Crown Final.

She also meets two high-class Victorian fillies in Miss Graceland and Petacular, so the Auckland-owned filly is going to need to do something special to win.

"I think she will improve on her semifinal last week and I don't really have much option but to keep going forward from the draw," says Purdon.

"But it won't be easy, those other two fillies are very good."

Triple treat

• Best bet: One Over Da Moon (Alex Park, R7): Field configuration should see him get a nice cart into race from huge handicap.

• Place punt: Doubleodeano (Alex Park, R8): Hasn't had much go right lately, gets his chance to lead and be hard to catch.

• Don't miss: Super Sunday, huge array of Kiwis lead by Our Waikiki Beach from 3.26pm (NZ time) on Sunday at Melton.


Michael Gerin

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